Center for Catholic Studies

MA in Catholic Studies

Catholicism is animated from its core by the self-gift of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Bringing together multiple disciplines – theology, philosophy, history, literature, science and art – in every course, the MA in Catholic studies helps students see how the reality of Christ’s self-gift in the Incarnation holds profound meaning in every aspect of human experience.

This approach to graduate studies allows students to consider how "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11) – in the wisdom they seek, in the work they choose, and in the actions they take. Because of this, our students are drawn from many walks of life. They are teachers, doctors, businesspeople, parents, empty-nesters, and those just getting started in exploring their life’s vocation. Some are pursuing a career within the Catholic Church or preparing for doctoral studies, while others are simply looking to explore their faith in a rigorous and supportive academic context.

The Master of Arts in Catholic studies degree requires students to complete 10 courses (30 credits) and one master's essay (3 credits) for a total of 33 credits. The requirements outlined apply to degree-seeking students.

Students in the program take two required courses: CSMA 500 Catholic Thought and Culture I, and CSMA 501 Catholic Thought and Culture II. These two courses introduce students not only to the sweep of two thousand years of Catholic thought and culture, but also to the interdisciplinary way of thinking central to Catholic Studies.

Students are also required to take one course in each of four core areas: theology, philosophy, history, and art. Courses that satisfy the area requirements are grounded in a particular area of study, but engage that area explicitly in its relationship to other areas of study. Thus, students have an opportunity to consider a given area with some precision while seeing it situated in the larger frame of Catholic Studies.

The four remaining elective courses are taken from other area courses, or from symposia courses that focus on specific thinkers, works, or topics. Symposia courses bring many areas to bear on the thinker, work, or topic under consideration. Students work with the Graduate Director in determining which courses are most fitting to the student’s academic goals and program of study. To meet the diverse range of academic, personal, and professional needs of our students, the MA program offers area courses on both introductory and advanced levels.

Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, all students complete a master's essay as the final, qualifying project for the degree. The master's essay gives students an opportunity to develop research, critical thinking, and writing skills and deepen their mastery of areas of Catholic Studies that are particularly intriguing to them. The completed paper, approximately 25-30 pages, will be evaluated by a committee of three faculty members who will hold a formal conversation about it with the student. Normally, students complete the master's essay during their last semester of study.

Popular courses include The Catholic Novel, Secularization, St. Francis and His World, The Catholic Social Tradition, John Henry Newman, Virtue, Christopher Dawson, Dante’s "Divine Comedy", Augustine’s "Confessions", Thomas More, and others. See our Courses page for details about upcoming offerings. 

Guided by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s idea of a university, our program is designed to foster the intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth of students. Because of this we focus on a rich and supportive environment that goes well beyond the classroom. The beautiful Sitzmann Hall serves as a second home for many of our graduate students and is not only a place for rich and meaningful academic discussion, but also a place of worship, study, and friendship. Graduate community activities include:

  • Monthly graduate program dinners in Sitzmann Hall’s common room
  • Mass in the Albertus Magnus Chapel in Sitzmann Hall before all evening classes
  • Annual graduate program Thought & Culture lecture and wine reception
  • Student-led activities, including reading groups, service outreach, Poetry and Port evenings, and Lectio Divina
  • Special social events, including Handel’s Messiah lecture and concert and pumpkin carving

Summer-only program: Students who are not available to study during the academic year or who, because of work or family considerations, cannot relocate to the Twin Cities for the duration of their studies, can opt to complete the program requirements through summer-only courses. Typically, three courses are offered each summer during a six-week session, with each class meeting during daytime hours twice a week.

Non-degree students: Students who are interested in taking a course, but who are unsure whether they can commit to completing a full MA in Catholic studies degree, have the option to enroll in up to two courses as non-degree status. Both courses may be applied toward a graduate degree at a later point. More information on non-degree admission can be found on the Application and Admissions page.

Rome study abroad: In partnership with the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum), students may apply to study in Rome for the spring academic semester. Up to three courses may be taken during the term and applied to the degree program as electives. Graduate students may apply to live at St. Thomas' Bernardi Residence, located on the banks of the Tiber River and just a short walk from the Vatican.

Online MA in Catholic Studies

Catholic School Educator Opportunities

Law and Catholic Studies Joint Degree

Examine the 2,000-year Catholic intellectual tradition with a detailed and critical appreciation of portions of that tradition.

Be prepared to live with courage and hope in the complex modern world. Better understand and examine critically contemporary challenges to Catholicism and internal debates within Catholicism itself, and develop the intellectual tools necessary to respond to economic, social, cultural, and religious injustice.

Learn from teacher-scholars who have a profound respect for the church and its teachings. Participate in a program that is committed to teaching Catholic theology "in a manner faithful to Scripture, tradition and the church's magisterium," as Ex Corde Ecclesiae prescribes, and that is also committed to the church's view, affirmed in Ex Corde, that "the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected."

Explore the dialogue between faith and reason. Integrate knowledge across academic disciplines to see all things in relation one to another.

Recognize the vast wealth of various religious traditions and cultures, past and present. Participate in frank, constructive ecumenical dialogue and, as appropriate, explore cross-cultural perspectives.

Examine issues on a variety of subjects related to Catholicism through analysis and exposure to arguments in favor of and opposed to church teaching.